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On 22 April 2012 I will be running the Virgin London Marathon to raise money for The PSP Association.
PSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy) is a devastating brain condition that my father suffered from in the later years of his life. He passed away in January 2010.
PSP is a cruel condition that progressively robs those affected of their ability to walk, talk, see and swallow. When I was going through Dad's papers after his death I came across a quote from John Mortimer that Dad had written down not once but twice. It was "I don't see why I should forego any of my pleasures in life to live three years longer in a nursing home".
Well thanks to a number of wonderful live-in carers Dad was able to spend the last three years in his own home and he kept enjoying those pleasure right until the end, still going to the theatre and the cinema even when he had to go in a wheelchair. But by the time he was taken into hospital with pneumonia 6 weeks before he died he could no longer enjoy any of those things. He could not eat or drink so was fed through a tube; his eyesight was fading so he could no longer read and struggled to see the TV and he was confined to bed or a wheelchair.
In some respects Dad was one of the lucky ones. He was 84 when he died and had lived a long, full and happy life before his health started to fail. But PSP has no respect for age. The cause of PSP is unknown and it can strike anyone regardless of gender, race or social class although it tends to appear in the over forties.
Currently, there is no effective treatment and no cure for PSP. On average patients die within some seven years from the onset of the disease; however from diagnosis to death is usually between two and four years.
PSP is known to affect some 10,000 people in the UK but the actual number is likely to be much higher as it is often misdiagnosed and goes undiagnosed in the elderly. The number of cases of PSP is set to rise significantly with the changing demographics and an ageing population.
As well as my dad in 2010, PSP claimed the life of Daily Mail columnist Nigel Dempster in 2007, and talented actor Dudley Moore died from the disease in 2002.
The PSP Association wants to improve the quality of life of people with PSP and work towards a world that is free of PSP. This year the spotlight is on research and my aim is to help them raise funds and awareness for their 3 research aims: (1) Cause (2) Treatment and (3) Cure.
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